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Whole Controversy: Mackey health care comments cause trouble


Critics have been coming out in full force against Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, after his recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal revealed some controversial thoughts about health care that go against the progressive thinking of many Whole Foods shoppers.

Throughout the past week, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has been demonstrating in front of Whole Foods stores, and Change to Win, a union-backed group has called on Whole Foods’ board of directors to remove Mackey as chairman and name a new CEO.

"Mackey attempted to capitalize on the brand reputation of Whole Foods to champion his personal political views, but has instead deeply offended a key segment of Whole Foods consumer base," said CtW Investment Group executive director Bill Patterson. "This is not the first time Mr. Mackey's unsanctioned communications have damaged Whole Foods' image with consumers and investors. At a time when shareholders are looking for Whole Foods' management to focus on improving operations in an uncertain economy, we can not afford the risk to our company's brand reputation caused by Mr. Mackey's indiscretion. He has become a liability and the board should begin the process of identifying a suitable replacement."

The actions against Whole Foods don’t end with union groups. Customers have begun boycotting the stores, and even Facebook has a group urging shoppers to go elsewhere.

The strong anger toward Mackey stems from his opposition to government-run health care and in particular to his view that health care is not an intrinsic right, citing that no such idea is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence or Constitution.

It is that choice of words that may have gotten Mackey, and subsequently Whole Foods, in trouble. In the same piece, he suggests making health care more portable and better enabling Americans to make tax-deductible donations toward helping those less fortunate access medical services. If Mackey stuck with making these sorts of statements instead of suggesting Americans don’t have a right to health care, Whole Foods may have been spared the PR nightmare.

Of course, there may be many who agree with Mackey, who, in the end, calls on Americans to take responsibility for their own health and make smarter lifestyle choices. However, with Obama in the White House, the country has shifted more to the left and those who don’t support more liberal-leaning ideas are subject to more scrutiny.

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